DENVER — The Denver City Council on Monday unanimously approved a plan to purchase an Embassy Suites in southeast Denver and convert the 205-room hotel into a shelter for unhoused families.
The Embassy Suites at 7525 E. Hampden Avenue is the latest temporary shelter to be erected under Denver Mayor Mike Johnston's House1000 initiative. In a social media post, the mayor thanked the "courageous city council" and said he's grateful for its unanimous support.
Grateful for unanimous city council support to open 2 more hotel sites, including our family shelter in SE Denver. This clears the path to bring 1000 people indoors this year and permanently close encampments. This is a courageous city council that Denver should be proud of!— Mayor Mike Johnston (@MikeJohnstonCO) December 19, 2023
Under the contract, the city will purchase the hotel for roughly $21 million. Until the city closes on the property, it will rent the space for $825,000/ month. The city hopes to close on the property in March and will move residents in as early as Dec. 28.
The city expects the entire project to cost roughly $31 million. The Salvation Army will operate the shelter.
Cole Chandler, senior advisor on homelessness for the mayor's office, confirmed Monday that the Embassy Suites would house families only. He added that it is possible migrant families could be sheltered at the hotel.
The first families who will be moved to the Embassy Suites will come from the Comfort Inn, which has 138 rooms. The Embassy Suites will not immediately be expanded to fill all 205 of the rooms, but as the Salvation Army staff sets up, additional rooms will be filled.
Nearby residents pushed back against the plan, claiming the deal lacked transparency.
“We’re concerned,” said Rosemary Guilmette, president of the Morningside HOA, which has 10 buildings and 434 units next to the Embassy Suites. “Who’s going to monitor the shelter and keep this community safe? Where are the resources for these families that are going into the Embassy Suites?”
Plan to purchase Embassy Suites as homeless shelter up for council vote Monday
Johnston addressed concerned neighbors during a meeting this past weekend, saying more than 100 families are already on the waiting list to live in the hotel.
“This is a family site, and we're committed to this being a family site,” Johnston said. “That's what the council would push for. So, we think it’s going to help make it successful. And that's why we're doing it. We know we don't want kids on the streets of the city. And that's why we've focused on this as our first family site, and we’re really excited about it.”
During the public comment portion of the city council meeting on Monday, many people expressed their differing views on the plan.
“We need more compassion for our fellow man, woman and child. Every child deserves to grow up with a roof over their heads and food on the table," said one man in support of the proposal.
“The proposed conversion raises many issues and concerns, including but not limited to increased danger for permanent residents, children and elderly," said a woman who opposed the plan.